Kevin J. Freeland
Kevin was an Army Brat that spent much of his early childhood moving from base to base before settling in El Paso, Texas. After graduation from High School Kevin joined the Marine Corps and spent ten years at various duty stations before coming to Pensacola with his family in 1986.
Kevin has been diving since 1978. He was first introduced to the sport by a Marine Corps friend on the island of Okinawa. Later Kevin would be certified on Okinawa and a lifelong love for all things SCUBA would begin. In early 1986, after several years and hundreds of dives, Kevin became a Divemaster and then Instructor. Teaching SCUBA became a full time job after his enlistment ended and Kevin continued teaching independently right up until the time he returned to the US in the fall of 1986. Kevin arrived in Pensacola and after a brief stint as a staff instructor at the legendary Skippers Dive Center, started the Dive Pros, aka Gulf Coast Pro Dive, Inc. The Dive Pros opened their doors on October 4th 1988 and have been a leader in the Dive Industry ever since. Here are Kevin’s answers to a few of our questions.
Favorite Local Dive:
The Russian Freighter. A great classic wreck. Loaded with a huge variety of marine life. Something for everyone from the Hunters and Gatherers to the photo bug. I’ve seen just about everything living in the Gulf on this wreck at one time or another. The depth is such that you can cruise the wreck without getting too deep and see most everything you wanna see. If you spot something cool you just drop down on it and when you are ready you can drift back up and continue cruising. Of course you can’t go wrong with the live bottom out in the Trysler Grounds or Greens Hole. Both are awesome. Oh, and the Brass Wreck is fantastic as are the piles and piles of Bridge Rubble. One thing for certain, Pensacola and the Gulf have a little something for everyone. Did I mention the Airplanes? Oh, you can’t forget them. I used to love any trip to the A7. What a sight. This huge war bird resting quietly on a bed of white sand.
Favorite international dive:
Wow, that is so hard. Probably the reefs off of Chuuk in what is popularly known as Truk Lagoon. Incredible color and variety of life. Tons of small to medium sharks. So much to see it makes you dizzy. Macro stuff, big stuff, Hard Coral, Soft Coral, invertebrates, just about anything you want. Best part is, it is nearly virgin diving. Everyone goes for the wrecks. I promise you, the reefs are even more impressive! Second Choice is Big Drop Off near German Channel in Palau or maybe Ras Muhamed in the Red Sea.
Okinawa, Philippines, Guam, Saipan, Palau, Truk/Chuuk, Pohnpei, Majuro, Hawaii, Cuba, Mexico-Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas, Grand Cayman, Curacao, U.S. Virgin Islands, Belize, Roatan, Guanaja, Israel, Egypt, California, Florida and probably a few places I have forgotten!
Best Dive Industry “Job”:
Hard one. I am blessed. I have been able to work at something I love with people I love for over 24 years. O.K. I have three that jump to mind.
- #3 Teaching Taiken diving on Guam from 1992-1994. I worked for an absolute great guy Mr. Kit. He was the Godfather of Taiken diving on Guam. Taiken diving is like Discover SCUBA on steroids. It was absolutely a joy to go to work every day. The excitement and the enthusiasm of our clients was infectious. I loved working with the Japanese tourists.
- #2 Program Manager for the Marine Corps SCUBA Program on Okinawa from 2004-2009. I was honored to be part of a professional team that was dedicated to providing our service members and their families with great recreational activities and other family support needs. My staff were some of the best I have ever met and had the privilege of working with. We had five facilities spread out over Okinawa and issued thousands of certifications with annual sales of about two million dollars. Incredible experience!
- #1 President of the Dive Pros. It’s true! Find a job you love and you never work a day in your life. So many great friends over the years. I’m looking forward to 25 more years of this.
Well, SCUBA is kind of obvious. Aside from that I love riding my Motorcycle, hanging out with my family and friends, football, softball, baseball apple pie, etc. etc. I am very interested in Veterans rights and benefits. Our returning warriors deserve to be welcomed home and shown the gratitude they deserve. The thing I like most though is Travel. I love to travel and experience the different cultures and countries around the world. My daughter lives in Morocco and that gives me a great excuse to travel to North Africa every other year or so.
- NAUI Course Director & Instructor Trainer
- NAUI Lifetime Member, #8705 L
- PADI Openwater Instructor, #57156
- NAUI/PADI Specialty Instructor
- DAN Oxygen First Aid Instructor Trainer, #69
- TDI Instructor, #85
- SDI Instructor, #85
- PADI Medic First Aid Instructor
- NAUI CPR/First Aid Instructor Trainer
- Specialty Diver – Night, Deep, Nitrox, Advanced Nitrox, Gas Blender, Boat Diver, Underwater Hunter, Spearfishing, Cavern Diver, Dry Suit Diver, Full Face Mask, Underwater Communications, Drift Diver, Underwater Ecologist, Wreck Diver, Search & Recovery, Rescue, Advanced SCUBA Rescue, Computer Diving, Underwater Environment.
- NAUI Outstanding Service Award
- NAUI Course Directors Award
- NAUI Ambassador Award
- NAUI Continuing Service Award